[Six years have elapsed and John Shand's great hour has come. Perhaps
his great hour really lies ahead of him, perhaps he had it six years
ago; it often passes us by in the night with such a faint call that
we don't even turn in our beds. But according to the trumpets this is
John's great hour; it is the hour for which he has long been working
with his coat off; and now the coat is on again (broadcloth but ill-
fitting), for there is no more to do but await results. He is
standing for Parliament, and this is election night.
As the scene discloses itself you get, so to speak, one of John
Shand's posters in the face. Vote for Shand. Shand, Shand, Shand.
Civil and Religious Liberty, Faith, Hope, Freedom. They are all fly-
blown names for Shand. Have a placard about Shand, have a hundred
placards about him, it is snowing Shand to-night in Glasgow; take the
paste out of your eye, and you will see that we are in one of Shand's
committee rooms. It has been a hairdresser's emporium, but Shand,
Shand, Shand has swept through it like a wind, leaving nothing but
the fixtures; why shave, why have your head doused in those basins
when you can be brushed and scraped and washed up for ever by simply
voting for Shand?
There are a few hard chairs for yelling Shand from, and then rushing
away. There is an iron spiral staircase that once led to the ladies'
hairdressing apartments, but now leads to more Shand, Shand, Shand. A
glass door at the back opens on to the shop proper, screaming Civil
and Religious Liberty, Shand, as it opens, and beyond is the street
crammed with still more Shand pro and con. Men in every sort of garb
rush in and out, up and down the stair, shouting the magic word. Then
there is a lull, and down the stair comes Maggie Wylie, decidedly
overdressed in blue velvet and (let us get this over) less good-
looking than ever. She raises her hands to heaven, she spins round
like a little teetotum. To her from the street, suffering from a
determination of the word Shand to the mouth, rush Alick and David.
Alick is thinner (being older), David is stouter (being older), and
they are both in tweeds and silk hats.]
MAGGIE. David--have they--is he? quick, quick! DAVID. There's no news
yet, no news. It's terrible.
[The teetotum revolves more quickly.]
ALICK. For God's sake, Maggie, sit down.
MAGGIE. I can't, I can't.
DAVID. Hold her down.
[They press her into a chair; JAMES darts in, stouter also. His
necktie has gone; he will never again be able to attend a funeral in
JAMES [wildly]. John Shand's the man for you. John Shand's the man
for you. John Shand's the man for you.
DAVID [clutching him]. Have you heard anything?
JAMES. Not a word.
ALICK. Look at her.
DAVID. Maggie [he goes on his knees beside her, pressing her to him
in affectionate anxiety]. It was mad of him to dare.
MAGGIE. It was grand of him.
ALICK [moving about distraught]. Insane ambition.
MAGGIE. Glorious ambition.
DAVID. Maggie, Maggie, my lamb, best be prepared for the worst.
MAGGIE [husky]. I am prepared.
ALICK. Six weary years has she waited for this night.
MAGGIE. Six brave years has John toiled for this night.
JAMES. And you could have had him, Maggie, at the end of five. The
document says five.
MAGGIE. Do you think I grudge not being married to him yet? Was I to
hamper him till the fight was won?
DAVID [with wrinkled brows]. But if it's lost?
[She can't answer.]
ALICK [starting]. What's that?
[The three listen at the door, the shouting dies down.]
DAVID. They're terrible still; what can make them so still?
[JAMES spirits himself away. ALICK and DAVID blanch to hear MAGGIE
speaking softly as if to JOHN.]
MAGGIE. Did you say you had lost, John? Of course you would lose the
first time, dear John. Six years. Very well, we'll begin another six
to-night. You'll win yet. [Fiercely] Never give in, John, never give
[The roar of the multitude breaks out again and comes rolling
DAVID. I think he's coming.
[JAMES is fired into the room like a squeezed onion.]
JAMES. He's coming!
[They may go on speaking, but through the clang outside none could
hear. The populace seems to be trying to take the committee room by
assault. Out of the scrimmage a man emerges dishevelled and bursts
into the room, closing the door behind him. It is JOHN SHAND in a
five guinea suit, including the hat. There are other changes in him
also, for he has been delving his way through loamy ground all those
years. His right shoulder, which he used to raise to pound a path
through the crowd, now remains permanently in that position. His
mouth tends to close like a box. His eyes are tired, they need some
one to pull the lids over them and send him to sleep for a week. But
they are honest eyes still, and faithful, and could even light up his
face at times with a smile, if the mouth would give a little help.]
JOHN [clinging to a chair that he may not fly straight to heaven].
I'm in; I'm elected. Majority two hundred and forty-four; I'm John
[The crowd have the news by this time and their roar breaks the door
open. JAMES is off at once to tell them that he is to be SHAND'S
brother-in-law. A teardrop clings to ALICK's nose; DAVID hits out
playfully at JOHN, and JOHN in an ecstasy returns the blow.]
DAVID. Fling yourself at the door, father, and bar them out. Maggie,
what keeps you so quiet now?
MAGGIE [weak in her limbs]. You're sure you're in, John?
JOHN. Majority 244. I've beaten the baronet. I've done it, Maggie,
and not a soul to help me; I've done it alone. [His voice breaks; you
could almost pick up the pieces.] I'm as hoarse as a crow, and I have
to address the Cowcaddens Club yet; David, pump some oxygen into me.
DAVID. Certainly, Mr. Shand. [While he does it, MAGGIE is seeing
ALICK. What are you doing, Maggie?
MAGGIE. This is the House of Commons, and I'm John, catching the
Speaker's eye for the first time. Do you see a queer little old wifie
sitting away up there in the Ladies' Gallery? That's me. 'Mr.
Speaker, sir, I rise to make my historic maiden speech. I am no
orator, sir'; voice from Ladies' Gallery, 'Are you not, John? you'll
soon let them see that'; cries of 'Silence, woman,' and general
indignation. 'Mr. Speaker, sir, I stand here diffidently with my eyes
on the Treasury Bench'; voice from the Ladies' Gallery, 'And you'll
soon have your coat-tails on it, John'; loud cries of 'Remove that
little old wifie,' in which she is forcibly ejected, and the
honourable gentleman resumes his seat in a torrent of admiring
[ALICK and DAVID waggle their proud heads.]
JOHN [tolerantly]. Maggie, Maggie.
MAGGIE. You're not angry with me, John?
JOHN. No, no.
MAGGIE. But you glowered.
JOHN. I was thinking of Sir Peregrine. Just because I beat him at the
poll he took a shabby revenge; he congratulated me in French, a
language I haven't taken the trouble to master.
MAGGIE [becoming a little taller]. Would it help you, John, if you
were to marry a woman that could speak French?
DAVID [quickly]. Not at all.
MAGGIE [gloriously]. Mon cher Jean, laissez-moi parler le francais,
voulez-vous un interprete?
MAGGIE. Je suis la soeur francaise de mes deux freres ecossais.
DAVID [worshipping her]. She's been learning French.
JOHN [lightly]. Well done.
MAGGIE [grandly]. They're arriving.
MAGGIE. Our guests. This is London, and Mrs. John Shand is giving her
first reception. [Airily] Have I told you, darling, who are coming
to-night? There's that dear Sir Peregrine. [To ALICK] Sir Peregrine,
this is a pleasure. Avez-vous...So sorry we beat you at the poll.
JOHN. I'm doubting the baronet would sit on you, Maggie.
MAGGIE. I've invited a lord to sit on the baronet. Voila!
DAVID [delighted]. You thing! You'll find the lords expensive.
MAGGIE. Just a little cheap lord. [JAMES enters importantly.] My dear
Lord Cheap, this is kind of you.
[JAMES hopes that MAGGIE's reason is not unbalanced.]
DAVID [who really ought to have had education]. How de doo, Cheap?
JAMES [bewildered]. Maggie---
MAGGIE. Yes, do call me Maggie.
ALICK [grinning]. She's practising her first party, James. The swells
are at the door.
JAMES [heavily]. That's what I came to say. They are at the door.
JAMES. The swells; in their motor. [He gives JOHN three cards.]
JOHN. 'Mr. Tenterden.'
DAVID. Him that was speaking for you?
JOHN. The same. He's a whip and an Honourable. 'Lady Sybil
Tenterden.' [Frowns.] Her! She's his sister.
MAGGIE. A married woman?
JOHN. No. 'The Comtesse de la Briere.'
MAGGIE [the scholar]. She must be French.
JOHN. Yes; I think she's some relation. She's a widow.
JAMES. But what am I to say to them? ['Mr. Shand's compliments, and
he will be proud to receive them' is the very least that the Wylies
JOHN [who was evidently made for great ends]. Say I'm very busy, but
if they care to wait I hope presently to give them a few minutes.
JAMES [thunderstruck]. Good God, Mr. Shand!
[But it makes him JOHN'S more humble servant than ever, and he
departs with the message.]
JOHN [not unaware of the sensation he has created]. I'll go up and
let the crowd see me from the window.
MAGGIE. But--but--what are we to do with these ladies?
JOHN [as he tramps upwards]. It's your reception, Maggie; this will
MAGGIE [growing smaller]. Tell me what you know about this Lady
JOHN. The only thing I know about her is that she thinks me vulgar.
JOHN. She has attended some of my meetings, and I'm told she said
MAGGIE. What could the woman mean?
JOHN. I wonder. When I come down I'll ask her.
[With his departure MAGGIE'S nervousness increases.]
ALICK [encouragingly]. In at them, Maggie, with your French.
MAGGIE. It's all slipping from me, father.
DAVID [gloomily]. I'm sure to say 'for to come for to go.'
[The newcomers glorify the room, and MAGGIE feels that they have
lifted her up with the tongs and deposited her in one of the basins.
They are far from intending to be rude; it is not their fault that
thus do swans scatter the ducks. They do not know that they are
guests of the family, they think merely that they are waiting with
other strangers in a public room; they undulate inquiringly, and if
MAGGIE could undulate in return she would have no cause for offence.
But she suddenly realises that this is an art as yet denied her, and
that though DAVID might buy her evening-gowns as fine as theirs [and
is at this moment probably deciding to do so], she would look better
carrying them in her arms than on her person. She also feels that to
emerge from wraps as they are doing is more difficult than to plank
your money on the counter for them. The COMTESSE she could forgive,
for she is old; but LADY SYBIL is young and beautiful and comes
lazily to rest like a stately ship of Tarsus.]
COMTESSE [smiling divinely, and speaking with such a pretty accent].
I hope one is not in the way. We were told we might wait.
MAGGIE [bravely climbing out of the basin]. Certainly--I am sure if
you will be so--it is--
[She knows that DAVID and her father are very sorry for her.]
[A high voice is heard orating outside.]
SYBIL [screwing her nose deliciously]. He is at it again, Auntie.
COMTESSE. Mon Dieu! [Like one begging pardon of the universe] It is
Mr. Tenterden, you understand, making one more of his delightful
speeches to the crowd. WOULD you be so charming as to shut the door?
[This to DAVID in such appeal that she is evidently making the
petition of her life. DAVID saves her.]
MAGGIE [determined not to go under]. J'espere que vous--trouvez--
COMTESSE. Vous parlez francais? Mais c'est charmant! Voyons, causons
un peu. Racontez-moi tout de ce grand homme, toutes les choses
merveilleuses qu'il a faites.
MAGGIE. I--I--Je connais--[Alas!]
COMTESSE [naughtily]. Forgive me, Mademoiselle, I thought you spoke
SYBIL [who knows that DAVID admires her shoulders]. How wicked of
you, Auntie. [To MAGGIE] I assure you none of us can understand her
when she gallops at that pace.
MAGGIE [crushed]. It doesn't matter. I will tell Mr. Shand that you
SYBIL [drawling]. Please don't trouble him. We are really only
waiting till my brother recovers and can take us back to our hotel.
MAGGIE. I'll tell him.
[She is glad to disappear up the stair.]
COMTESSE. The lady seems distressed. Is she a relation of Mr. Shand?
DAVID. Not for to say a relation. She's my sister. Our name is Wylie.
[But granite quarries are nothing to them.]
COMTESSE. How do you do. You are the committee man of Mr. Shand?
DAVID. No, just friends.
COMTESSE [gaily to the basins]. Aha! I know you. Next, please! Sybil,
do you weigh yourself, or are you asleep?
[LADY SYBIL has sunk indolently into a weighing-chair.]
SYBIL. Not quite, Auntie.
COMTESSE [the mirror of la politesse]. Tell me all about Mr. Shand.
Was it here that he--picked up the pin?
DAVID. The pin?
COMTESSE. As I have read, a self-made man always begins by picking up
a pin. After that, as the memoirs say, his rise was rapid.
[DAVID, however, is once more master of himself, and indeed has begun
to tot up the cost of their garments.]
DAVID. It wasn't a pin he picked up, my lady; it was L300.
ALICK [who feels that JOHN's greatness has been outside the
conversation quite long enough]. And his rise wasn't so rapid, just
at first, David!
DAVID. He had his fight. His original intention was to become a
minister; he's university-educated, you know; he's not a working-man
ALICK [with reverence]. He's an M.A. But while he was a student he
got a place in an iron-cementer's business.
COMTESSE [now far out of her depths]. Iron-cementer?
DAVID. They scrape boilers.
COMTESSE. I see. The fun men have, Sybil!
DAVID [with some solemnity]. There have been millions made in
scraping boilers. They say, father, he went into business so as to be
able to pay off the L300.
ALICK [slily]. So I've heard.
COMTESSE. Aha--it was a loan?
[DAVID and ALICK are astride their great subject now.]
DAVID. No, a gift--of a sort--from some well-wishers. But they
wouldn't hear of his paying it off, father!
ALICK. Not them!
COMTESSE [restraining an impulse to think of other things]. That was
ALICK [with a look at DAVID]. Yes. Well, my lady, he developed a
perfect genius for the iron-cementing.
DAVID. But his ambition wasn't satisfied. Soon he had public life in
his eye. As a heckler he was something fearsome; they had to seat him
on the platform for to keep him quiet. Next they had to let him into
the Chair. After that he did all the speaking; he cleared all roads
before him like a fire-engine; and when this vacancy occurred, you
could hardly say it did occur, so quickly did he step into it. My
lady, there are few more impressive sights in the world than a
Scotsman on the make.
COMTESSE. I can well believe it. And now he has said farewell to
DAVID [impressively]. Not at all; the firm promised if he was elected
for to make him their London manager at L800 a year.
COMTESSE. There is a strong man for you, Sybil; but I believe you
SYBIL [stirring herself]. Honestly, I'm not. [Sweetly to the others]
But would you mind finding out whether my brother is drawing to a
[DAVID goes out, leaving poor ALICK marooned. The COMTESSE is kind to
COMTESSE. Thank you very much. [Which helps ALICK out.] Don't you
love a strong man, sleepy head?
SYBIL [preening herself]. I never met one.
COMTESSE. Neither have I. But if you DID meet one, would he wakes you
SYBIL. I dare say he would find there were two of us.
COMTESSE [considering her]. Yes, I think he would. Ever been in love,
you cold thing?
SYBIL [yawning]. I have never shot up in flame, Auntie.
COMTESSE. Think you could manage it?
SYBIL. If Mr. Right came along.
COMTESSE. As a girl of to-day it would be your duty to tame him.
SYBIL. As a girl of to-day I would try to do my duty.
COMTESSE. And if it turned out that HE tamed you instead?
SYBIL. He would have to do that if he were MY Mr. Right.
COMTESSE. And then?
SYBIL. Then, of course, I should adore him. Auntie, I think if I ever
really love it will be like Mary Queen of Scots, who said of her
Bothwell that she could follow him round the world in her nighty.
COMTESSE. My petite!
SYBIL. I believe I mean it.
COMTESSE. Oh, it is quite my conception of your character. Do you
know, I am rather sorry for this Mr. John Shand.
SYBIL [opening her fine eyes]. Why? He is quite a boor, is he not?
COMTESSE. For that very reason. Because his great hour is already
nearly sped. That wild bull manner that moves the multitude--they
will laugh at it in your House of Commons.
SYBIL [indifferent]. I suppose so.
COMTESSE. Yet if he had education---
SYBIL. Have we not been hearing how superbly he is educated?
COMTESSE. It is such as you or me that he needs to educate him now.
You could do it almost too well.
SYBIL [with that pretty stretch of neck]. I am not sufficiently
interested. I retire in your favour. How would you begin?
COMTESSE. By asking him to drop in, about five, of course. By the
way, I wonder is there a Mrs. Shand?
SYBIL. I have no idea. But they marry young.
COMTESSE. If there is not, there is probably a lady waiting for him,
somewhere in a boiler.
SYBIL. I dare say.
MAGGIE. Mr. Shand will be down directly.
COMTESSE. Thank you. Your brother has been giving us such an
interesting account of his career. I forget, Sybil, whether he said
that he was married.
MAGGIE. No, he's not married; but he will be soon.
COMTESSE. Ah! [She is merely making conversation.] A friend of yours?
MAGGIE [now a scorner of herself]. I don't think much of her.
COMTESSE. In that case, tell me all about her.
MAGGIE. There's not much to tell. She's common, and stupid. One of
those who go in for self-culture; and then when the test comes they
break down. [With sinister enjoyment] She'll be the ruin of him.
COMTESSE. But is not that sad! Figure to yourself how many men with
greatness before them have been shipwrecked by marrying in the rank
from which they sprang.
MAGGIE. I've told her that.
COMTESSE. But she will not give him up?
SYBIL. Why should she if he cares for her? What is her name?
COMTESSE [still uninterested]. Well, I am afraid that Maggie is to do
for John. [JOHN comes down.] Ah, our hero!
JOHN. Sorry I have kept you waiting. The Comtesse?
COMTESSE. And my niece Lady Sybil Tenterden. [SYBIL'S head inclines
on its stem.] She is not really all my niece; I mean I am only half
of her aunt. What a triumph, Mr. Shand!
JOHN. Oh, pretty fair, pretty fair. Your brother has just finished
addressing the crowd, Lady Sybil.
SYBIL. Then we must not detain Mr. Shand, Auntie.
COMTESSE [who unless her heart is touched thinks insincerity
charming]. Only one word. I heard you speak last night. Sublime! Just
the sort of impassioned eloquence that your House of Commons loves.
JOHN. It's very good of you to say so.
COMTESSE. But we must run. Bon soir.
[SYBIL bows as to some one far away.]
JOHN. Good-night, Lady Sybil. I hear you think I'm vulgar. [Eyebrows
COMTESSE. My dear Mr. Shand, what absurd---
JOHN. I was told she said that after hearing me speak.
COMTESSE. Quite a mistake, I---
JOHN [doggedly]. Is it not true?
SYBIL ['waking up']. You seem to know, Mr. Shand; and as you press me
so unnecessarily--well, yes, that is how you struck me.
COMTESSE. My child!
SYBIL [who is a little agitated]. He would have it.
JOHN [perplexed]. What's the matter? I just wanted to know, because
if it's true I must alter it.
COMTESSE. There, Sybil, see how he values your good opinion.
SYBIL [her svelte figure giving like a fishing-rod]. It is very nice
of you to put it in that way, Mr. Shand. Forgive me.
JOHN. But I don't quite understand yet. Of course, it can't matter to
me, Lady Sybil, what you think of me; what I mean is, that I mustn't
be vulgar if it would be injurious to my career.
[The fishing-rod regains its rigidity.]
SYBIL. I see. No, of course, I could not affect your career, Mr
JOHN [who quite understands that he is being challenged]. That's so,
Lady Sybil, meaning no offence.
SYBIL [who has a naughty little impediment in her voice when she is
most alluring]. Of course not. And we are friends again?
SYBIL. Then I hope you will come to see me in London as I present no
JOHN [he is a man, is JOHN]. I'll be very pleased.
SYBIL. Any afternoon about five.
JOHN. Much obliged. And you can teach me the things I don't know yet,
if you'll be so kind.
SYBIL [the impediment becoming more assertive]. If you wish it, I
shall do my best.
JOHN. Thank you, Lady Sybil. And who knows there may be one or two
things I can teach you.
SYBIL [it has now become an angel's hiccough]. Yes, we can help one
another. Good-bye till then.
JOHN. Good-bye. Maggie, the ladies are going.
[During this skirmish MAGGIE has stood apart. At the mention of her
name they glance at one another. JOHN escorts SYBIL, but the COMTESSE
COMTESSE. Are you, then, THE Maggie? [MAGGIE nods rather defiantly
and the COMTESSE is distressed.] But if I had known I would not have
said those things. Please forgive an old woman.
MAGGIE. It doesn't matter.
COMTESSE. I--I dare say it will be all right. Mademoiselle, if I were
you I would not encourage those tete-a-tetes with Lady Sybil. I am
the rude one, but she is the dangerous one; and I am afraid his
impudence has attracted her. Bon voyage, Miss Maggie.
MAGGIE. Good-bye--but I CAN speak French. Je parle francais. Isn't
COMTESSE. But, yes, it is excellent. [Making things easy for her]
C'est tres bien.
MAGGIE. Je me suis embrouillee--la derniere fois.
COMTESSE. Good! Shall I speak more slowly?
MAGGIE. No, no. Nonon, non, faster, faster.
COMTESSE. J'admire votre courage!
MAGGIE. Je comprends chaque mot.
COMTESSE. Parfait! Bravo!
[She goes, applauding; and MAGGIE has a moment of elation, which
however has passed before JOHN returns for his hat.]
MAGGIE. Have you more speaking to do, John? [He is somehow in high
JOHN. I must run across and address the Cowcaddens Club. [He sprays
his throat with a hand-spray.] I wonder if I AM vulgar, Maggie?
MAGGIE. You are not, but _I_ am.
JOHN. Not that _I_ can see.
MAGGIE. Look how overdressed I am, John. I knew it was too showy when
I ordered it, and yet I could not resist the thing. But I will tone
it down, I will. What did you think of Lady Sybil?
JOHN. That young woman had better be careful. She's a bit of a besom,
MAGGIE. She's beautiful, John.
JOHN. She has a neat way of stretching herself. For playing with she
would do as well as another.
[She looks at him wistfully.]
MAGGIE. You couldn't stay and have a talk for a few minutes?
JOHN. If you want me, Maggie. The longer you keep them waiting, the
more they think of you.
MAGGIE. When are you to announce that we're to be married, John?
JOHN. I won't be long. You've waited a year more than you need have
done, so I think it's your due I should hurry things now.
MAGGIE. I think it's noble of you.
JOHN. Not at all, Maggie; the nobleness has been yours in waiting so
patiently. And your brothers would insist on it at any rate. They're
watching me like cats with a mouse.
MAGGIE. It's so little I've done to help.
JOHN. Three hundred pounds.
MAGGIE. I'm getting a thousand per cent for it.
JOHN. And very pleased I am you should think so, Maggie.
MAGGIE. Is it terrible hard to you, John?
JOHN. It's not hard at all. I can say truthfully, Maggie, that all,
or nearly all, I've seen of you in these six years has gone to
increase my respect for you.
JOHN. And a bargain's a bargain.
MAGGIE. If it wasn't that you're so glorious to me, John, I would let
[There is a gleam in his eye, but he puts it out.]
JOHN. In my opinion, Maggie, we'll be a very happy pair.
[She accepts this eagerly.]
MAGGIE. We know each other so well, John, don't we?
JOHN. I'm an extraordinary queer character, and I suppose nobody
knows me well except myself; but I know you, Maggie, to the very
roots of you.
[She magnanimously lets this remark alone.]
MAGGIE. And it's not as if there was any other woman you--fancied
JOHN. There's none whatever.
MAGGIE. If there ever should be--oh, if there ever should be! Some
woman with charm.
JOHN. Maggie, you forget yourself. There couldn't be another woman
once I was a married man.
MAGGIE. One has heard of such things.
JOHN. Not in Scotsmen, Maggie; not in Scotsmen.
MAGGIE. I've sometimes thought, John, that the difference between us
and the English is that the Scotch are hard in all other respects but
soft with women, and the English are hard with women but soft in all
JOHN. You've forgotten the grandest moral attribute of a Scotsman,
Maggie, that he'll do nothing which might damage his career.
MAGGIE. Ah, but John, whatever you do, you do it so tremendously; and
if you were to love, what a passion it would be.
JOHN. There's something in that, I suppose.
MAGGIE. And then, what could I do? For the desire of my life now,
John, is to help you to get everything you want, except just that I
want you to have me, too.
JOHN. We'll get on fine, Maggie.
MAGGIE. You're just making the best of it. They say that love is
sympathy, and if that's so, mine must be a great love for you, for I
see all you are feeling this night and bravely hiding; I feel for you
as if I was John Shand myself. [He sighs.]
JOHN. I had best go to the meeting, Maggie.
MAGGIE. Not yet. Can you look me in the face, John, and deny that
there is surging within you a mighty desire to be free, to begin the
new life untrammelled?
JOHN. Leave such maggots alone, Maggie.
MAGGIE. It's a shame of me not to give you up.
JOHN. I would consider you a very foolish woman if you did.
MAGGIE. If I were John Shand I would no more want to take Maggie
Wylie with me through the beautiful door that has opened wide for you
than I would want to take an old pair of shoon. Why don't you bang
the door in my face, John? [A tremor runs through JOHN.]
JOHN. A bargain's a bargain, Maggie.
[MAGGIE moves about, an eerie figure, breaking into little cries. She
flutters round him, threateningly.]
MAGGIE. Say one word about wanting to get out of it, and I'll put the
lawyers on you.
JOHN. Have I hinted at such a thing?
MAGGIE. The document holds you hard and fast.
JOHN. It does.
[She gloats miserably.]
MAGGIE. The woman never rises with the man. I'll drag you down, John.
I'll drag you down.
JOHN. Have no fear of that, I won't let you. I'm too strong.
MAGGIE. You'll miss the prettiest thing in the world, and all owing
JOHN. What's that?
MAGGIE. All's cold and grey without it, John. They that have had it
have slipped in and out of heaven.
JOHN. You're exaggerating, Maggie.
MAGGIE. You've worked so hard, you've had none of the fun that comes
to most men long before they're your age.
JOHN. I never was one for fun. I cannot call to mind, Maggie, ever
having laughed in my life.
MAGGIE. You have no sense of humour.
JOHN. Not a spark.
MAGGIE. I've sometimes thought that if you had, it might make you
fonder of me. I think one needs a sense of humour to be fond of me.
JOHN. I remember reading of some one that said it needed a surgical
operation to get a joke into a Scotsman's head.
MAGGIE. Yes, that's been said.
JOHN. What beats me, Maggie, is how you could insert a joke with an
[He considers this and gives it up.]
MAGGIE. That's not the kind of fun I was thinking of. I mean fun with
the lasses, John--gay, jolly, harmless fun. They could be impudent
fashionable beauties now, stretching themselves to attract you, like
that hiccoughing little devil, and running away from you, and
crooking their fingers to you to run after them.
[He draws a big breath.]
JOHN. No, I never had that.
MAGGIE. It's every man's birthright, and you would have it now but
JOHN. I can do without, Maggie.
MAGGIE. It's like missing out all the Saturdays.
JOHN. You feel sure, I suppose, that an older man wouldn't suit you
MAGGIE. I couldn't feel surer of anything. You're just my ideal.
JOHN. Yes, yes. Well, that's as it should be.
[She threatens him again.]
MAGGIE. David has the document. It's carefully locked away.
JOHN. He would naturally take good care of it.
[The pride of the Wylies deserts her.]
MAGGIE. John, I make you a solemn promise that, in consideration of
the circumstances of our marriage, if you should ever fall in love
I'll act differently from other wives.
JOHN. There will be no occasion, Maggie.
[Her voice becomes tremulous.]
MAGGIE. John, David doesn't have the document. He thinks he has, but
I have it here.
[Somewhat heavily JOHN surveys the fatal paper.]
JOHN. Well do I mind the look of it, Maggie. Yes, yes, that's it.
MAGGIE. You don't ask why I've brought it.
JOHN. Why did you?
MAGGIE. Because I thought I might perhaps have the courage and the
womanliness to give it back to you. [JOHN has a brief dream.] Will
you never hold it up against me in the future that I couldn't do
JOHN. I promise you, Maggie, I never will.
MAGGIE. To go back to The Pans and take up my old life there, when
all these six years my eyes have been centred on this night! I've
been waiting for this night as long as you have been; and now to go
back there, and wizen and dry up, when I might be married to John
JOHN. And you will be, Maggie. You have my word.
MAGGIE. Never--never--never. [She tears up the document. He remains
seated immovable, but the gleam returns to his eye. She rages first
at herself and then at him.] I'm a fool, a fool, to let you go. I
tell you, you'll rue this day, for you need me, you'll come to grief
without me. There's nobody can help you as I could have helped you.
I'm essential to your career, and you're blind not to see it.
JOHN. What's that, Maggie? In no circumstances would I allow any
meddling with my career.
MAGGIE. You would never have known I was meddling with it. But that's
over. Don't be in too great a hurry to marry, John. Have your fling
with the beautiful dolls first. Get the whiphand of the haughty ones,
John. Give them their licks. Every time they hiccough let them have
an extra slap in memory of me. And be sure to remember this, my man,
that the one who marries you will find you out.
JOHN. Find me out?
MAGGIE. However careful a man is, his wife always finds out his
JOHN. I don't know, Maggie, to what failings you refer.
[The Cowcaddens Club has burst its walls, and is pouring this way to
raise the new Member on its crest. The first wave hurls itself
against the barber's shop with cries of 'Shand, Shand, Shand.' For a
moment, JOHN stems the torrent by planting his back against the
You are acting under an impulse, Maggie, and I can't take advantage
of it. Think the matter over, and we'll speak about it in the
MAGGIE. No, I can't go through it again. It ends to-night and now.
Good luck, John.
[She is immediately submerged in the sea that surges through the
door, bringing much wreckage with it. In a moment the place is so
full that another cupful could not find standing room. Some slippery
ones are squeezed upwards and remain aloft as warnings. JOHN has
jumped on to the stair, and harangues the flood vainly like another
Canute. It is something about freedom and noble minds, and, though
unheard, goes to all heads, including the speaker's. By the time he
is audible sentiment has him for her own.]
JOHN. But, gentlemen, one may have too much even of freedom [No, no.]
Yes, Mr. Adamson. One may want to be tied. [Never, never.] I say yes,
Willie Cameron; and I have found a young lady who I am proud to say
is willing to be tied to me. I'm to be married. [Uproar.] Her name's
Miss Wylie. [Transport.] Quiet; she's here now. [Frenzy.] She was
here! Where are you, Maggie? [A small voice--'I'm here.' A hundred
great voices--'Where--where--where?' The small voice--'I'm so little
none of you can see me.']
[Three men, name of Wylie, buffet their way forward.]
DAVID. James, father, have you grip of her?
ALICK. We've got her.
DAVID. Then hoist her up.
[The queer little elated figure is raised aloft. With her fingers she
can just touch the stars. Not unconscious of the nobility of his
behaviour, the hero of the evening points an impressive finger at
JOHN. Gentlemen, the future Mrs. John Shand! [Cries of 'Speech,
speech!'] No, no, being a lady she can't make a speech, but---
[The heroine of the evening surprises him.]
MAGGIE. I can make a speech, and I will make a speech, and it's in
two words, and they're these [holding out her arms to enfold all the
members of the Cowcaddens Club]--My Constituents! [Dementia.]